A COVID-19 vaccine in the works at the University of Oxford has reportedly shown promising results in early human testing. The university is working with AstraZeneca Plc in the hopes of developing the first working inoculant against the worldwide pandemic. The results of the initial testing were published on Monday in The Lancet medical journal.
The study showed that the potential vaccine increased levels of protective neutralizing antibodies and immune T-cells in human subjects. Study organizers were optimmistic about these findings, including the head of Oxford's Jenner Institute, Adrian Hill. "We are seeing very good immune responses, not just on neutralizing antibodies but of T-cells as well," Hill told Bloomberg. "We're simulating both arms of the immune system."
Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine produces a good immune response, reveals new study.— University of Oxford (@UniofOxford) July 20, 2020
Teams at @VaccineTrials and @OxfordVacGroup have found there were no safety concerns, and the vaccine stimulated strong immune responses: https://t.co/krqRzXMh7B pic.twitter.com/Svd3MhCXWZ
This Phase 1 trial of what is being called the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot was conducted between April 23 and May 21. It involved 1,077 health adult subjects between the ages of 18 and 55, with no history of COVID-19. Ten of the participants received two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, administered one month apart.
The vaccine did show minor side effects in the test subjects, though these were reportedly reduced by taking paracetamol. None of them showed severe side effects that would cause the drug to be useless. Hill said most of the other test subjects received just one shot of the vaccine, but future testing will focus on a two-shot regimen.
"It gives higher titres of antibodies, which is important going forward," he explained. If testing continues to go well, the U.S. could begin to receive supplies for the vaccine as early as October, based on an agreement between Oxford and AstraZeneca, both based in the U.K. However, Hill encouraged other drug makers to continue their work as well.
"We want other companies to have vaccines that work as well because the world will get more vaccine sooner," he said. "We just feel there is an advantage of having both arms of the immune system stimulated well."
Other leading attempts to create a coronavirus vaccine include developers at China's CanSino Biologics Inc., and a development partnership between Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE. Both of these studies also reported positive findings on Monday. In total, about 160 coronavirus vaccines are in development around the world.
"It's good, not unexpected, but good to have it confirmed," said University of Reading biomedical sciences professor Ian Jones. "The vaccine worked and developed the all-important neutralizing antibodies, in most cases after one shot and in all cases after 2 shots."
COVID-19 has now killed over 600,000 people worldwide, and the death toll is climbing. In the U.S. alone, over 141,000 people have died with over 6,000 new cases per day being reported.